Silver toothbrush set, Birmingham, England, 1793
Used while travelling, this set contains a toothbrush, tongue scraper and toothpowder pot all made from silver. The bristled toothbrush became the most popular way to clean teeth from around 1800 onwards. Tongue scrapers were used to remove the ‘furry’ deposits on the tongue that could develop after eating and drinking. Toothpowder was rubbed into the teeth and gums to clean them. A number of different recipes were created. Many included cloves, cinnamon, honey and even finely ground cuttle-fish bones. Sets like this were known as ‘morocco cased’ and the items were made by Samuel Pemberton, a silversmith located in Birmingham.
Related Themes and Topics
Techniques and Technologies:
The science of health and how to maintain it. A condition or practice which promotes good health. The definition varies widely and differs across cultures.
Glossary: toothbrush set
Glossary: tongue scraper
An instrument to remove 'fur' off the tongue.
Small brushes, with long handles, for cleaning the teeth. A variety of oral hygiene measures have been used since before recorded history. This has been verified by various excavations done all over the world, in which tree twigs, bird feathers, animal bones and porcupine quills that had been used to clean or brush ones teeth were recovered.
The study, treatment and management of diseases affecting the mouth, jaws, gums, teeth and their supporting tissues.
Glossary: tooth powder
A powder used for cleaning the teeth. Tooth powders were in general use in 1800s Britain. Most were homemade, with chalk, pulverized brick, or salt as ingredients.